Springtime has arrived and the multitudes of Rhododendrons are blooming….. Our state flower shines in every color imaginable and I am here to remind you of this one old adage – flowers come and flowers go - so discover the different foliages of Rhododendrons! We all salivate for spring flowers, but after the blooms are done we need attractive leaves. Rhodies offer not only every shade of green, in all kinds of shapes/sizes, but also some variegated foliages, many with stunning color on new growth as well. There are thousands of nice bloomers, but remember to look for one with nice foliage as well.
If you love gardening, chances are you probably also appreciate the arts and the humanities. I have always considered gardening a form of art and the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from being around plants is the same kind of feeling I receive from good music, theater, a good book, or a simple walk in the park where I am surrounded by the beauty of nature. It is my considered opinion that these kinds of experiences are essential to a healthy society, but sadly they are currently under attack by our administration because they are perceived as nonessential or as having little value to us. Nothing could be farther from the truth and we need to let our legislators know.
Considering all the cold and wet weather we have had, and evidently will continue to have for at least the first half of April, I could easily just refer you to my To Do list for both February and March and you would probably be just fine (you can find those articles here ). For myself I am easily 2 to 3 weeks behind schedule, especially in my veggie garden where I would have loved to have had my cool season veggies planted by now. I have to keep reminding myself that there is still plenty of time.
March and April are what we call the “cool season” when it comes to veggies. Typically that means planting vegetables either for their roots, such as onions, potatoes or carrots, or for their shoots (think leaves), such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach but also broccoli and cauliflower. Warm season veggies are like tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash and they are planted later when the soils get much warmer. Today I want to focus on onions.
It’s official, spring is now here. This week marks that magic moment when our days finally become longer than our nights. Of course there is no guarantee that any of these days will actually have the sun shining but it is at least encouraging to know that the potential is there to experience, on the average, 3 more minutes of daylight every day from now until the summer solstice, at which time we start losing 3 minutes a day until we hit the fall equinox when once again the days become shorter than the nights. I find sometimes it is better not to dwell on this kind of information and just appreciate each day as it unfolds. Call me simple minded if you like but this is how I stay sane.
There’s no point in sugar coating this message. The weather sucks and it is going to continue to suck for the rest of the month; ain’t nothing any of us can do about it and no amount of whining is going to make me or you feel any better (although a healthy dose of “wine-ing” seems to help me get through the week). By the time northwest gardeners reach the month of March they are ready to dig into the soil and get with the program. Having to wait until April can be pure torture, so here is what I do to try and stay upbeat...
Last Tuesday (the last day of February) started out cold and frozen with a few snowflakes falling from the sky, but as the day went on the sun came out and it actually felt like a taste of spring for me. I was working in the garden doing some cleanup and for the first time this year I was whistling, lost in thought as I scurried about with my pruners, rake, and wheelbarrow. I couldn’t help but feel that the last vestiges of winter were finally behind us. It was at that moment that a bit of panic came over me as I realized I still had a ton of things to do to get ready for spring. Here is what I accomplished and what you should focus on as well.
I know it doesn’t feel like it but spring has arrived, despite the cold and wet (dare I say snowy) weather we have been experiencing. I will be the first to admit that when it is this cold I prefer to stay inside and wait for the sun to come out. But despite my reluctance to go digging in the garden, the season continues to march on, stimulated by the increased day length and occasional sun breaks, few and far in between as they have been. Simply put, there is no stopping Mother Nature once she wakes up.
This week marks the beginning of the 29th annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show, which will run this coming Wednesday through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. This is a world class production that is sure to get you in the mood for the upcoming gardening season. Every year I come away with some new ideas, a few new plant purchases, and an overall renewed excitement for gardening. If you have yet to partake in this event, then you should really consider going this year.
I just returned from spending two deliciously warm and sunny weeks in Mexico doing as little as possible while the rest of you endured “Snowmageddon” along with some nasty freezes that pretty much put the skids on any productive work in the garden. With that kind of weather I would have expected my garden to look about the same as when I left it 14 days prior, but I discovered some surprising changes.